Joss Stone has been obsessed with soul music since she was a little girl. By the time she was in her early teens she had begun to intuitively hone her now trademark gravely-but-lustrous vocals by singing along to Aretha's Franklin's Greatest Hits. She began pursuing a singing career at thirteen, securing a record deal at 15, and recording her star-making debut album, The Soul Sessions, which was released in 2003. Ten years on from those stunning sessions, Joss has decided to bring things full circle and revisit where it all began - with her follow up to that multi million-selling debut, The Soul Sessions Vol 2, a stunning exercise in vocal poise, passion and power, showcasing some great songs and an artist at the peak of her vocal powers.
Following her critically acclaimed arrival on the music scene (which preceded the plethora of soul-inspired female artists that came along in her wake) things took off for Joss in an enormous way. Her second record, 2004's Mind Body & Soul capitalized on 'The Soul Sessions' commercial momentum and critical adoration and earned Stone three Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. It also spawned a self-penned UK Top 10 single, "You Had Me", and earned her two Brit Awards that same year. Her third album, 2007's Introducing Joss Stone, was a more independent, less packaged effort, on which Joss further showcased her songwriting abilities, and revealed the singer had truly been embraced by the American audience when it debuted on the Billboard Top 100 at No.2, marking the highest debut ever for a female British solo artist. With over 11 million album sales to date and a wealth of experience under her belt, 2012 seemed like the right time to return to the Soul Sessions model from a new perspective.
In her short, young life and already long career, Joss has performed onstage with the likes of James Brown, Gladys Knight, Solomon Burke, Blondie, Smokey Robinson and Melissa Etheridge among many others. She's contributed to albums by Jeff Beck and Ringo Starr, played the Super Bowl pre-game show, performed on the Grammys, - and indeed won a Grammy herself. In her twenty-five years she's participated in more moments of absolute musical wonder than most people can hope for in a lifetime. And she's approached it all with a sense of independence and joie de vivre. Stone has always been a bit of a rebel, whether she's dancing barefoot onstage or dyeing her hair various colors or speaking out on issues she's passionate about, part of what her fans love about her is that she's a free-spirit, following her own instincts at all times.
Joss' quest for freedom continued with 2009's Colour Me Free, which she recorded in a week in her mother's club in Devon. "We did not have anything," the singer says with a laugh. "We were bashing in walls to get the equipment in, recording in different rooms. We couldn't hear each other but we had a blast!" That was followed in 2011 by 'LP1,' a collaboration with Dave Stewart and her first release on her label Stone'd Records, on which Joss went for a similar come-what-may approach, but with a little more sophistication. "We recorded in the same amount of time - just a week at a studio in Nashville," the singer says. "But we had everything you could possibly need in the world. Engineers for all the equipment. The right gear. And a fridge for the beer!"
At the same time, she was also recording songs for an album with Super Heavy, a "side project" featuring legendary musicians including Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, A.R. Rahman and Dave Stewart, which came out late last year.
It is this approach to music - intuitive and freeform - merged with the backdrop of nearly a decade of hard-earned experience in the industry - that characterizes the Stone mindset. If she wants to do something badly enough she gets it done, no matter what the obstacles - but only if she's having fun along the way. And she had been thinking for a while that it would be a lot of fun to revisit where it all began and re explore the vibe of the first Soul Sessions album - this time as a fully formed artist, just turned 25, with the life experience now behind her that was, by definition, somewhat limited first time around at 15 years of age. She made a phone call to the man who signed her as a teenager, Steve Greenberg at S-Curve Records, and, as is often the case with Stone, an idea quickly became a reality - this time as a joint venture between the two. The result is a stunning album that showcases an assured artist, comfortable in her skin, and a timely reminder of why we fell in love with Joss Stone in the first place.